April 30, 2012

Cinco de Mayo: Vegan-Style.

Cinco de Mayo—The 5th of May holiday commemorating the Mexican militia victory over the French Army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862—is one of the easiest celebrations to veganize!

Guacamole and salsa are already vegan. Beans and rice are, too; it is the preparation that counts.

Though many restaurants make black or refried beans with chicken stock, animal fat or pieces of meat, you can make your own beans with vegetable broth. Consider tossing some onion, garlic, and the pepper of your choice into the bean pot. Of course, you can also buy canned, vegetarian beans and spice them up, too. Beans are perfect for nachos, burritos and tostadas.

There’s no reason for rice to be non-vegan, but some people just can’t stay away from the animal-based broth or tossing cooked rice in butter for “flavor.” Not necessary! Go basic and simply cook the rice in salted water and serve with flavorful vegetable. Enrich the flavor by cooking the rice in a hearty vegetable stock.

For a vegan fajita, grill your favorite vegetables—instead of meat or seafood—and serve with a warm, flour tortilla and top with your favorite vegan sour cream. Quesadillas are even an option, now that more plant-based cheese, that melts, is on the market (Daiya and Teese are my favorites).

You can make vegan chef Terry Hope Romero’s Olive Oil Tamales with Asparagus & Mushrooms. If you’d rather skip the preparation and get right to eating a vegan tamale, Upton’s Naturals Chorizo-style seitan tamale con mole is a delicious option.

Would you like to try tacos or tostadas with a twist? This tofu taco is flavored with red wine vinegar and served with spinach and the tostada is served with kale (because everything is better with kale).

Recipe note: These recipes are for the intuitive cook – aside from the tofu and tempeh there are no measurements. Simply use the ingredients as a guide to suit your taste and preference.

Tofu Tacos

Ingredients (Serves 2 – 4)

– Extra firm tofu, pressed and drained
– Avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
– Red wine
– Shallots, diced
– Garlic, minced
– Hot sauce (optional)
– Sea salt and pepper, to taste
– White corn tortillas
– Baby spinach
– Vegan sour cream


– Heat over to 400F degrees.
– Slice a block of tofu into eight pieces and placed in a shallow dish.
– In a small bowl whisk the marinade: avocado oil, red wine, shallots, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
– Pour the marinade over the tofu and let sit for 30 minutes.
– Bake the tofu for 30 minutes (at 15 minutes, flip to the tofu).
– During the final 15 minutes of baking the tofu heat avocado oil in a skillet and place the white corn tortillas (2) in the hot oil. Let the tortillas “fry” for just a few minutes and flip. After a few more minutes fold the tortillas to a “taco shape.”
– Let the tortillas cool and toss 3 handfuls of baby spinach in the hot skillet. Reduce heat to low and cover for just a few minutes.
– Remove tofu from the oven and slice into strips. Assemble the taco: spinach, tofu, and vegan sour cream.

Tempeh Tostadas

Ingredients (Makes 6 – 8 tostadas)

– 1 package tempeh
– Corn tortillas (small)
– Veggie broth
– Chili powder
– Garlic salt
– 2 stalks of celery
– 1/2 small red onion, diced
– 1/2 cup fresh salsa
– Vegetable oil spray
– Kale
– Avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
– Sea salt
– Vegan sour cream (optional)
– Hot sauce (optional)


– Preheat the oven to 400F degrees (for the tortillas).
– Cut tempeh into four equal pieces and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
– In a skillet, cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable broth and heat on medium-high. When the broth begins to boil add chili powder and garlic salt, to taste. Add onion and celery and saute for a few minutes. Add the tempeh to the skillet and crumble into small bits. Stir in fresh salsa, cover and lower the heat to simmer for 8 – 10 minutes.
– Spray vegetable oil on each side of corn tortillas, place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 8 minutes.
– While the tempeh is simmering and the tortillas are baking, pour a small amount of avocado oil over the kale (torn into bite size pieces), lightly salt and massage with your hands.
– To assemble: place massaged kale over a crispy corn tortilla, spoon tempeh over the kale and, if desired, top off with vegan sour cream and hot sauce.

You can end your Mexican meal with a sweet treat and make PETA’s vegan Tres Leche Cake (Three Milks Cake).

Last, but not least, be sure to make your margaritas vegan! Azul, Corazon, Don Julio, and El Tesoro are all vegan-friendly tequilas, according to Barnivore. Vegan tequila? We plant-based eaters prefer to avoid eating worms.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Editor: Lorin Arnold

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